Maybe McCain and Davis think that since it worked for Bush in 2000 against McCain and 2004 against Kerry it will work for them. But 2000 is a vastly different world than 2008. In 2000 there weren't two wars and we had a budget surplus and the dot com bubble had not quite burst. In 2000 we weren't, according to McCain, facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. In 2004 Kerry's campaign was run almost as poorly as McCain's current campaign. Keep in mind Obama and his staff have run a solid campaign. Remember, Obama and his staff beat Hillary Clinton. Unlike Kerry, Obama addresses the smears and dismisses them as assertions made by a desperate campaign that is out of touch and cannot run on the issues. And let's be honest, Obama is a better candidate than Kerry. And this time the issues really matter, especially at home given our economic outlook.
My belief (and that's all it is, my own thoughts on this subject) is that half-truths and fear mongering/pandering won't work this time, like it did against McCain in 2000. It won't work because there are more important things at stake than personal feelings and reputations. In 2000 as between W. and McCain (and then Gore) all there was to really differentiate candidates was a question of who did you like better. Who would you rather have a beer with? It really was a popularity contest. Now is more reminiscent of 1992. H.W. Bush couldn't get any traction out of the attacks against Bill Clinton in 1992, that he was pot smoking draft dodger, because the economy was bad. Well the economy is worse now than it was in 1992, by a mile. The world has changed. The strategy of a presidential campaign and the tactics employed should have changed when the changed world.
Unfortunately, Rick Davis and McCain have not yet grasped that the landscape has changed. Potentially, their overall campaign strategy (fear) and tactics (such as asking questions like "who is the real Obama," and asserting that he, "pals around with terrorists", present tense plural) used to carry out that strategy are outdated relics, not applicable to our current political landscape. Maybe they've been blinded by the fear of losing another election. Again, the "dark arts" worked against them in 2000. Too bad for McCain the "blackest of the dark arts" is not working for him, like it did against him in 2000, at least according to the polls. No matter the outcome of the election, it seems apparent that McCain really has been seduced by the "dark arts".